My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I LOVED Geekerella - and I want to tell you why!
Ashley Poston had me hooked with the first line, and anyone who knows me will know why:
The stepmonster is at it again.
Yes, I call my father's wife my stepmonster. Yes, when she does deign to make an appearance in my life she makes me feel like I am to blame for everything in this world - even the sky being blue! I feel your pain, Elle, I truly do!
I'm not eighteen, I haven't been for a long, long time, and I never had my stepmonster as the only force in my life but there was a time there where she was like my mother - she was all I had - and every interaction between Catherine and Elle rang true for me. Catherine was the perfect evil step-parent for a Cinderella retelling!
It's the same spiel again and again. How she used to shop at Tiffany's. How she used to attend galas at Boone Hall Plantation. How she used to be happily married with two wonderful daughters. She never mentions me, her stepdaughter.
Catherine finishes cutting her coupon with a sigh. "But that was all before. Before your father left me and the twins here in this dreadful little house."
The stepmother from Cinderella had to be this vicious, venomous (yet, crafty and cunning) viper. Everything was done to her. Everything that happened was an offense to her and it was planned, crafted, and executed with skill by Cinderella just by breathing. The levels of emotional abuse and torture in that tale are staggering, but Catherine is perfection. She has moments where she shows Elle kindness, or appears to. Those moments are just enough to keep her wrapped about her fingers and stunted into her role as servant and deserving no better from anyone. They are just enough to isolate and destroy. I really think the stepmother from Cinderella (along with Catherine!) should be a character study for emotional abuse.
Elle isn't at a loss for this torture, but she is inundated with it by Catherine and Chloe (one of the twins), that she feels helpless to do anything about it. I've lived my life like that, lived it like that for so long that I found myself in therapy trying to unravel the damage that was done by believing I was powerless and deserved all the horrible things that happened to me. Watching Elle wander through this journey, the emotional landmines left everywhere by the cruelty of her stepsister and stepmother.... Enough dwelling on the sadness! LET'S GET TO THE GOOD STUFF!
You thought I was going to start in about the romance, right? C'mon, admit it? That's where you thought I would go!
Nope! Sage is a gift - and not just because she becomes the best friend (rightfully so!) to Elle, she is the best example that appearances can be deceiving. She was modeled after the fairy godmother (I'm assuming Ashley Poston and if I'm wrong, please correct me!) but she is a beautiful representation of someone who is on the receiving end of torment herself but has found a way to be kind and to remain positive throughout. She also has a little bit of devious streak in her which I love! Her mother is the owner of the The Magic Pumpkin, the Vegan food truck that Elle works in - but she is her own person, and not exactly a Vegan herself.
"You bought ice cream," I say stupidly.
"Uh, yeah. It's hot outside." Sage stirs her ice cream soup.
"But ice cream has... cream."
She blinks her purple-shaded eyelids. "And? Oh" - she grins big - "you thought I was a vegan? No way. That's just boss lady. I don't get it at all."
"Same," I agree. "I'm too much of a bacon fan."
"Mhm, bacon-flavored ice cream. Now that would be a sin in a vegan truck." Sage laughs. "We'd go straight to vegan hell. Though I don't know how much of a hell that'd be if we're already in it."
Everyone knows my Mom is a vegan - so I get it! (Sorry Mummy, but I'm with Elle and Sage! Mmmmmm, bacon!)
I think she's a gift - she's a strong, determined and positive LGBTQ character. (Her sweet little side romance with (view spoiler)[Cal (hide spoiler)] is precious! I just wish we'd seen more of it!) She's comfortable in her own skin and she helps Elle realize that she is not to blame for the sky being blue or the grass being green. She becomes her best friend and champion. I'm happy to see that they are still friends at the close of this tale, because the world needs more positive female friendships!
Why yes, I do rank the MC after a supporting character! It doesn't happen always but Sage deserves her own love story *nudges Ashley Poston* I'm not part of whatever fandom you came from (or maybe I am and I just don't know it because anonymity) but...
You should write a book about Sage and (view spoiler)[Cal (hide spoiler)].
Anyways, back to Elle and why I love her so much! She resonates with me because she is so much like me! Elle has a deep love for Starfield (I like to think of it as Star Trek of this little Universe) and she spends the book explaining that love and defending that love to everyone in her life (except Sage). Elle is unashamedly part of the whole fandom experience. She writes fanfic, she cosplays (well in the story she manages to, but before that it was something she wanted desperately), she loved the characters and reviews and rewatches over and over to provide her well thought out metas... The accurate portrayal of Fandom life (and the absolute disbelief when anything you post gets tons of notes/likes/views because you can't believe that anyone could really like what you have to say!) is so real that I feel certain Ashley Poston is part of a fandom herself - and she knew just how to make it feel real! She delights in converting people to her show (I do this too!) and she loves that there are cons where she can find that release and be among "her people" (because there isn't anyone that feels like my people in my everyday life but on the floor of a convention I feel like I'm at home!), even if she can't get to them.
She self-belittling at times, this is the example of the emotional turmoil she has lived in, but the strength that she shows - when she shows it - shows us all that Elle grows and comes into her own. She has great growth, it might not be as straight forward for everyone to see, but she does blossom into a strong, confident young woman. The strength of character and the strength of her love for her parents... It's just so beautiful!!
And then we come to....
I've seen a lot of comments about how they felt he was weak, but he wasn't. Darien was vulnerable - and how many of us talk about how we want vulnerability from our partner but when we see it we recoil? This young man is vulnerable, he shouldn't be abused for it. He suffered some attrocities at the hands of people he trusted and felt the crushing pain of being alone though he was surrounded by people. The moment where he discovers the truth, he becomes the hero and the Carmindor he was always meant to be. He discovers himself and how much strength he really has inside him and that he was not alone and bringing that to the romantic aspect between him and Elle - BEAUTIFUL.
That brings me to the romance... AND WHAT A ROMANCE!
The meet-cute aspect of the text messaging... The moment he realized that Elle is his Elle that he has been communicating with for so long via text, falling in love with without knowing what she looked like but only knowing her... PERFECTION! Darien has such a romantic soul.
-Not JUST the sky. It's the SAME sky.
-And if we're both looking up at the same sky, how far apart can we REALLY be? What were the odds of us being put on the same slab of rock in this huge universe?
I think he had me from the moment he realized and called her ab'lehna. You had me at ab'lehna, Darien. You had me at ab'lehna!
I think Cinderella teaches us all that no matter how much suffering there is, everyone deserves love and happiness. Geekerella does the same. No matter how they suffered, Darien & Elle deserved their happily ever after - or their happy beginning, depending on how many of my #oncers are reading this - and they deserve their happiness.
Five enthusiastic stars and another nudge for that Sage spin off! Go read it - if you're a member of a fandom you love and want to see the geek girl and the geek boy get their happy beginning!
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